Today I have with me Sibel Hodge, Independent Author. Sibel has proven not once, but three times that Romance can be funny, exciting and rather crazy at times. You’ll love her quirky characters and the situations they get themselves into.
LP: Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live now, and where you grew up?
SH: I grew up in Hertfordshire, UK. I have dual British/Turkish Cypriot nationality and spend most of my time in North Cyprus now. Beats the British weather!
LP: Sounds gorgeous. Do you feel that the environment you were raised in has any effect on your choice of genre?
SH: I think my personality dictated my choice of genre. But it did effect my choice of material. There are very few writers, if any, of Turkish Cypriot origin who write commercial fiction, so this was a great opportunity for me to introduce a unique infusion of British and Turkish Cypriot culture. It gives a new twist to contemporary romance in the way that My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Bend It Like Beckham did.
LP: When and why did you begin writing?
SH: I’ve always loved writing. When I was a little kid, I was always scribbling away. I started my first novel when I was about seventeen but didn’t have a clue what I was doing, so I binned it. I started the second one when I was twenty-seven but never got further than the first three chapters. My third one I started when I was thirty-five and went on to become my debut romantic comedy, Fourteen Days Later. I’ve now released three novels and I’m working on my fourth.
LP: What inspired your first book?
SH: I think we’ve all been in the situation where our lives are stuck in a rut or we’re down after the break up of a relationship. I was inspired by the idea that anything is possible if you take a chance on something new. You really never know what’s around the corner.
LP: So, true, and I start a fourteen day diet every other week. So your title really caught my attention. Speaking of titles, how do you come up with your titles?
SH: I actually had the title for Fourteen Days Later before I started writing it because the lead character, Helen Grey, has to complete a fourteen day life-changing challenge.
The Fashion Police, which is a comedy mystery, is a play on the well known saying amongst fashionistas. The novel is about a missing fashion designer and the lead female character, Amber Fox, used to be a police officer.
My Perfect Wedding is the sequel to Fourteen Days Later and follows the next stage in Helen’s life when she gets married. All she wants is the perfect wedding but living the dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
LP: I’ve read samples of all three, and love your characters. They immediately pull you into their madness. How much of your book is realistic or based on real life issues?
SH: A lot of the things that happen in my books are based on things that have happened to either me or friends or family. My lead female characters all have a little piece of my personality in them. I’m not telling you which bits, though!
LP: Oh, come on, you can at least give us a hint. So, when did you first consider yourself a writer?
SH: When I published my first novel. It was scary, exciting, fun, and crazy to see it for sale!
LP: I know that feeling so well. It’s sort of like waiting on that first review. Wanting it butat the same time terrified of it. Do you have a specific writing style?
SH: I write in a similar style to people like Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Catherine Alliott, Janet Evanovich, and Harlan Coben.
LP: What book are you reading now?
SH: Impeding Justice by Mel Comley.
LP: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
SH: I’m taking part in a couple of Indie Books reading challenges this year so I’ve had the opportunity to read quite a few. There are so many fantastic Indie authors out there, it’s hard to name them all.
LP: Sounds like fun. No challenges in my life, but I have a TBR list of Indies that I’m hoping to finish this year.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
SH: I would probably change the plot a little but not much more.
LP: Are you currently working on a new book, and if so, can you share some of it with us?’
SH: I’m currently working on the second novel in my comedy mystery series which features Amber Fox, a feisty insurance investigator.
LP: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your current work in progress?
SH: Plotting. I actually hate plotting in advance. I find it dampens my creativity if I get too hung up on too much detail. I find that if I just start to write, the plot and characters unfold naturally.
LP: Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
SH: My favourite authors are the ones I mentioned above because life is about living and laughing. After all, laughing keeps us young. Engrossing yourself in a good comedy is an excellent way to de-stress from our modern, hectic lives.
LP: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
SH: My latest romantic comedy, My Perfect Wedding, is set in Cyprus where I spend most of my time. It follows Helen as she moves to the sunny Mediterranean to start a new perfect life away from the rat-race in the UK. I guess you could say I was the guinea pig for the novel!
LP: Do you design your own covers?
LP: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
SH: You can do anything you want to in life. It may mean you have to go a different route than you originally planned, but if you’re determined enough and believe in yourself, you overcome any obstacles.
LP: Do you have any advice for other writers?
SH: Read, read, read. Write, write, write. The more you read, the more you understand what good writing is. The more you write, the more experience you get.
I’ve had all my manuscripts critiqued professionally before I published them. This is invaluable to a newbie for producing a top quality novel. There are plenty of forums and blogs that give a vast wealth of information to newbies looking to become an Indie. I’ve learned so much information from them in the last two years, and knowledge is power!
LP: I think most Indies are pretty voracious readers. And the forums and blogsites are great for helping you get started as well as obtaining professional help along the way. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
SH: Thanks so much for buying my novels. I hope they bring a smile to your face or give you a laugh-out-loud moment and that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
Thank you, Sibel, for a very enjoyable chat. I always find that knowing a little about the author makes the book more personal for me. I have all three of your books on my TBR list and hope to get to them in the next few months. Everyone needs to laugh, so are you ready to download a sample, or better yet–Buy Now!